That is more like it!
For the first time since the trade deadline, the Clippers had their entire roster active. The best ability is availability, and so far this season there have been very few Clippers who have maintained a consistent level of availability. With just 25 games remaining, tonight was a good start.
The Clippers came out absolutely firing. Before the start of the game, the broadcast showed a stat that directly correlated to what we saw tonight. In the last two seasons, the Clippers are 78-40 (.661) when Patrick Beverley plays and 7-13 (.350) when he doesn’t. His presence was immediately felt tonight.
While his energy alone is infectious, too many people minimize his impact on the game to simply an energy boost. Coming into tonight, the Clippers had a 113.3 ORTG, 104.4 DRTG, and 8.8 NRTG with Pat Bev on the floor. When Bev has been off the floor, the Clippers have a 109.3 ORTG, 106.5 DRTG, and 2.8 NRTG. He is much more than just an energy boost, he is a good basketball player.
In just 19 minutes, Pat Bev scored 6 points on 2/3 from distance. His added shooting to the starting unit was very missed in his absence, and the impact it provides was felt tonight.
Paul George also made his return tonight, and the rust was evident. He played 21 minutes, scored just 6 points, and shot 3/11 from the field; however, his gravity alone is a game changer. Without staring at the boxscore, it is evident that PG’s gravity and ability to probe the defense creates looks for guys like Morris, Beverley, and Shamet. That trio combined for 7/13 from distance and were undoubtedly benefitted by PG’s presence on the floor.
Kawhi did his thing. I mentioned in the preview, that the chances of Kawhi having another poor performance against Memphis was as unlikely as Avery Bradley nailing a long two. Kawhi did not disappoint, as he dropped 25/8/3 on 59% FG in just under 25 minutes of play.
The Clippers had a full squad, and that squad looked great. I have said it multiple times, but if people want to fire off hot takes after the Clippers lose without multiple starters, just let them. Context is everything.
When the Clippers are healthy, the Clippers are good. They showed that tonight.